In May, several law firms representing consumers in a class action against four automakers for installing faulty Takata airbags in their cars reached settlements with the automakers for $533 million. The four automakers and their respective shares of the settlement costs are: Toyota Motor, $278.5 million; BMW, $131 million; Mazda Motor, $76 million; and Subaru at $68 million.
The plaintiffs steering committee was led by Florida law firm, Podhurst Orseck. Additional firms on the committee in the civil case were Colson Hicks Eidson, Boies Schiller Flexner, Power Rogers & Smith, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, Carella Byrne Cecchi Olstein Brody & Agnello, and Baron & Budd.
Takata, the Japanese airbag maker, filed for bankruptcy in Japan and the United States on June 26, but was not a defendant in the suit. The company pleaded guilty to fraud earlier this year and agreed to pay $1 billion for concealing the airbag defects that were linked to 16 deaths.
Combined, the proposed settlement covers nearly 16 million of the automakers’ vehicles. The settlement aims to help speed up repairs and compensate class members who claimed the recalls cost them money by lowering the resale values of their cars and jeopardized their safety.
The settlement agreement provides for an independent outreach program whose goal is to encourage class members to get a mechanic to fix the problem, which involves replacing an air bag inflator that uses the unstable compound ammonium nitrate.
According to a statement from plaintiffs counsel, the money will also reimburse class members for “reasonable out-of-pocket expenses” and might pay them up to $500 each, according to a statement from plaintiffs counsel. The “most at-risk” class members will receive rental cars while they wait for car repairs and will have access to a customer support program for repairs and adjustments on the replacement inflators, including an extended warranty.